Disclaimer: I do not own Soul Eater.
A Living Nightmare
It doesn't happen every night. Some nights she will sleep peacefully throughout, softly snoring into her pillow as she dreams of nonsensical events. Her breathing is slow and even, and the night is quiet. There is no rush that streams through her blood and propels her from the dream.
Tonight, however, she finds herself forcing her eyes wide open and sitting up with a strangled gasp. Her breathing is heavy and ragged, and her mouth remains wide open in a ghostly replica of a scream. A buzzing fills her ears, blocking out the crickets and nighttime bugs outside her window, and only allows her to hear the echo of a drum beating quickly to the rhythm of her pounding heart.
With the rush of adrenaline, Maka's wide, teary eyes dart around the room. The dark shadows play tricks with her mind, disorienting her before she realizes that the dark masses are simply her desk or chair or a stack of books, and that the startling, glowing red off to her side are the digital numbers of her alarm clock. She continues to look around just to be sure.
Maka's not sure if she is looking for something or if she is just making sure that there is nothing there. Even if she does see something, she doubts that she would be able to react to it. Her body is nearly paralyzed save for her hands clenching her blanket so tightly that her knuckles seem white.
Minutes pass before Maka's tense body relaxes. Her breathing evens out, her heart settles down, and her hands hold the blanket loosely in her grip. Everything is quiet once more, save for the crickets chirping to a nonexistent tune outside. It is then when Maka is calm and rational that she realizes how childish she is being—getting all worked up over a simple nightmare.
At one point, she considered telling Soul about her nightly scares. Before heading to bed a few nights ago, she dropped by his room with the full intention to tell him everything. Of course, she beat around the bush and then lost her nerve entirely, realizing that Soul doesn't consider something uncool like nightmares worth discussing. When Soul had that nightmare that involved her, he never talked to her about it. He let it play its course until he stopped having them. How pitiful would it be for her to tell Soul that she couldn't handle bad dreams like he could?
"Maybe it's not just a bad dream," Maka murmurs aloud. The volume of her own voice startles her as it breaks through the quiet of the night. She stops speaking aloud and keeps her thoughts to herself.
Soul's nightmares were impractical and fictional. They sounded terrifying, certainly, but in the end, they weren't real. Maybe that is her problem. Her nightmare isn't as outlandish as Soul's. She cannot lucidly dream and remind herself that everything happening is impractical and could never happen in real life.
In real life, her nightmare has already happened.
It always starts the same way. She's with Soul and everyone, and she is filled with the feeling that when they are all together, they are powerful. They are safe. Whatever is thrown at them can easily be handled when they are together.
Then he appears. Sometimes his form is clearly visible, and other times it is a shapeless blur. Whatever his appearance, the end result is always the same: When Maka turns to Soul, he's gone. Everyone's gone. It's just her...and him.
There's a mocking, high-pitched laugh that invades her ears and makes the hair on the back of her neck stand tall and her skin crawl. She closes her eyes for a second to recollect herself, but her entire world seems to turn upside down and fill her with a sense of vertigo. Not long after, an eerily calm voice breaks through the silence.
She does wake up. Her eyes open just as wide as they have before and all she can register is the one hand tightly gripping her throat and the other hand digging its fingers into her side. Three red eyes gaze down at her with such intensity, such malice, such insanity...
She has awoken to a living nightmare.
She screams. She howls into the night as fear rockets through her senses. Her throat aches as her voice forces its way out, but she cannot stop the action or the paralyzing sensation.
It's then that she awakens for real with her mouth still open in a silent scream and the same fear carrying over from the nightmare...the memory.
Maka doesn't understand it. She doesn't understand how she could be so terrified of reliving this scenario over and over again. She has already lived through it in reality once before! She defeated the Kishin by overpowering this fear! How could it still rattle her to the point of turning her into nothing but a child plagued with bad dreams? Where has her courage gone?
The door to her bedroom slowly creaks open, and Maka is grateful that the fear has already left her. She tenses, analyzing the various attack methods and escape routes that she can perform, but stops when Soul peeks his head through the opening.
"Hey," Soul greets, obviously aware that it is nearly 3:00AM. "Are you alright? I heard you thrashing in here."
"Yeah, I'm fine," Maka automatically responds, forcing herself to relax. "I just had a bad dream. I'm fine."
There's a short silence as Soul's eyes bore into her, making Maka feel particularly vulnerable. She wants to tell him to go back to bed, but her voice refuses to work.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Soul asks, entering the room. Maka quickly shakes her head.
"No, I'm fine. It was just a bad dream. I'm fine. Just go back to bed," she snaps, not really knowing why she sounded so agitated at that moment. It isn't as if Soul is being unreasonable to ask that.
Soul studies her once more before approaching her bedside, obviously not content to do as she asks. "Really, Maka, this is the fourth time that I've gotten up in the middle of the night and heard you acting as though someone was attacking you. What's going on with my partner?"
The word "nothing" is on the tip of Maka's tongue, but she's unable to articulate it. All this time she thought Soul had no idea that she was having nightmares. How could she when they only happen at night when Soul is sleeping as well?
"Well?" Soul prompts. "It's almost four in-the-morning, Maka. Spit it out."
Maka frowns at Soul's edginess, but she knows from being with him that it's just his way of showing that he really wants to know. She wants to lord it over him that he never confided in her when he had those nightmares, but she honestly doesn't have the strength or fortitude to do so.
"...remember when we fought the Kishin?" The way Soul's eyes widen before narrowing tells Maka that he does, in fact, remember it, and that he's not exactly thrilled to hear that as an opening line to Maka's problem.
"Yeah," Soul reluctantly says. "What of it?"
Maka clears her throat, feeling a phantom pressure against her neck. "When you were all unconscious... I had a bad scare."
Impatience wears on Soul's face. His eyes narrow even more and he grits his sharp teeth before retorting, "Yeah, but we were all fine and you beat Asura. What of it, Maka?"
"That's it," Maka voices. "I had a bad scare. That's it."
She doesn't tell him what the bad scare was because she can't tell him. She cannot even find the words to describe her situation. If she speaks her residual nightmare out loud, she feels as though it will become real. That the next time she wakes up to those eyes, she won't wake up to anything else.
"But you're not going to tell me what," Soul clarifies, putting his hands into his hoodie that he wore to bed. "That's uncool, Maka."
Maka doesn't defend herself. She stares down at her hands and bites her lower lip, just wanting the confrontation to be over. Surprisingly, Soul's outburst does not signal his departure, as he seats himself on the edge of Maka's bed.
"You know," he starts, making sure that Maka is listening to him, "I'm not going to judge you. Whatever bad dream you're having is bothering you, and it's my job as your weapon to defeat anything that is bothering my meister. So, as my meister, it's your job to tell me what's bothering you. How can I protect you if you don't?"
"It's a bad dream, Soul," Maka says almost tiredly. "You can't turn into a scythe and destroy it."
"I didn't mean it like that, tiny tits," Soul groans, looking at her in exasperation. Maka frowns at the insult, but doesn't say or do anything. Her weapon's look softens when she doesn't react. "Fine, you'll tell me when you're ready."
Maka is almost thankful for Soul deciding to not press the matter anymore when he tells her to scoot over on the bed.
"Soul! What are you doing!"
With his usual toothy smirk, Soul forcefully pushes Maka's body to the other side of her bed, climbing in himself. He pulls the blankets over his body and lies down on his side, facing Maka.
"Well, if you're not going to be cool and tell me what's up, then I'm going to be cool and make sure you don't get anymore nightmares."
Maka's face turns bright red with a mixture of shock, embarrassment, and anger. "Soul, you have ten seconds to get out of this bed! Ten—"
"I'm doing this for your own good!"
"—seven, six, five—"
"We're just going to be sleeping. I don't go for girls with flat chests."
"Do you really want to be alone?"
"—two..." Maka stops her countdown, staring at Soul. He's looking at her with such a serious, intense expression that she cannot even fabricate a response to his person question. "No..."
"I don't want you being alone when you're that scared," Soul states, ignoring a slight blush that has stemmed on both of their cheeks. "Maybe you'll stop having the nightmare if you know someone will be right here to wake you up."
Memories of her younger self waking up after a nightmare to find her father gently picking her up and allowing her to sleep in-between her mother and him flash through Maka's mind. Whether it be the comfort of having someone there or simply feeling safe, it always stopped the onslaught of nightmares that she had when she was a child.
Sighing, Maka settles back down under the covers next to Soul. Over Soul's white hair she can see the red numbers displaying 4:03AM. At least she can comfort herself in knowing that they would only be sharing the bed for a few more hours. She could deal with that. It isn't as if they've never shared a bed before, after all.
This thought further comforts Maka. Soul isn't like her cheating father or like other perverted guys. She shouldn't feel nervous or timid about this situation. It actually feels...nice. She'll never admit it aloud, but having Soul next to her may be the best solution to her nightmares. How could she feel that level of fear when her weapon is right by her side?
Soul's eyes suddenly open, catching Maka's own staring at him. He leans forward, telling Maka in a low voice, "Go to sleep." He stops just a few inches from Maka's, resting his head closer to hers on the pillow. Maka's face heats up before she turns her body away from Soul, closing her eyes.
Sleep finds her rather quickly, and she wakes up to the sound of her alarm clock and muddled thoughts of marshmallow trees.
Author's Note: Obviously this story takes place in the anime's universe since the manga hasn't gotten as far as defeating the Kishin. This idea stemmed from the scene where Maka screams. I always thought that was a powerful scene, and this story developed from that. I'm not sure if I should leave it as it is or continue it, so any thoughts would be appreciated!